They’re coming to take me away…

Well… not anymore, but it sure felt like it a few weeks ago! I’m happy to make a bigger than big announcement that may or may not put a smile on your face but certainly makes me want to do things like cartwheels and back flips, or maybe just go to Starbucks for another latte.

I finished editing my book!

Yes! The one that was in pieces because I had chosen to cut a few (*read: a heck of a lot*) of words and I couldn’t figure out how it fit together anymore? Yeah, that one. It’s back together and it makes sense and I think it has all it’s working parts again! Now I can move forward with the next step in the publishing process… which is to actually seek publication!

During the process of this whole fiasco, a song from my childhood kept running through my mind. This little ditty was popular in the 1960’s – so I’m told – but it was in my childhood of the 80’s that I first ran across it. In eighth grade art class, if I remember correctly. But I digress… if you’re not familiar with it, feel free to search for it on You Tube, I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding it. And while the words are crazy weird, it’s really just the tag line that reflected how I felt inside during this tumultuous time… there were some days where I really felt like life would be better if I could just be taken away from this project that seemed to have no end! Gah!

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But I’m glad that no one took me away, or that I didn’t run away, and that I did decide to finish it. Because it’s pretty and shiny and I think it’s a whole lot better than when I first began.

So, there. Come celebrate with me. Go get a massage or a coffee or just re-watch an episode of The Walking Dead. Or all three, because, why not?

Happy reading, friends!

 

My poor broken baby…

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.

It’s a familiar nursery rhyme we’d all likely committed to memory before we could even walk, right? And it’s also the only way I can describe exactly what my current novel looks like right now.

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Ok, so in a previous post I mentioned how I needed to cut a few words from my manuscript to make it more marketable in the middle grade genre. At first I was terrified – I had to cut how many words? Then I thought about it and realized it was a good thing – cutting things down would only make me focus in on the most important parts which would help get the story as tight as possible. And I still feel that way.

Except for the fact that at this exact moment in time, it’s broken. Like, really broken.  Continue reading

5 Courses of the Rough Draft – Are you hungry yet?

Rough Drafts can be a tricky thing. The process that one author takes will look completely opposite from that of another. Each of us have our own style, techniques, and rhythm we abide by – even if we aren’t aware we stick to a routine.

For a while I felt the pressure to write my manuscripts the same way other authors would write theirs – and in the same time frame! One of my favorite authors regularly blogs that she can write a book in about a month. Another friend I spoke to yesterday said she’s lucky to get one manuscript done in a year’s time. And I even have a friend who said she’s always been such an editor, that writing is a very long process – a single novel of hers is now in the 3-4 year range, and still not complete.

The more I read other blogs and talk to fellow writers, it’s clear there is no cookie cutter way to write a story. Everyone is different, every writing process is different, and these are all good things. Some of the most successful authors publish multiple books a year, but even more authors publish only 1 per year, or 1 every few years. There is no rule that says a writer must produce a certain amount of work to be a success.

We’ve been called to write, and that’s what we need to do.

Here is the process I take when writing my own rough drafts: Continue reading

What is your writing routine?

I’m often asked how I get so much writing done when I also homeschool my three daughters. And until about a year ago, I would’ve said it was quite difficult, actually.

For most of my life writing was a hobby, something I only did every few months when an idea hit me and I could convince my family that ignoring them was in their best interest. (For my own sanity, that is!) It wasn’t until I released my self-published novellas that I decided to refer to myself as a writer, and it took even longer than that before I would tell people that I wrote for a living. (Much longer.) Because let’s be honest – I may not earn a dime from it (yet), but it’s what I choose to do every day! However, along with this daily writing declaration came a need for balance, a routine that my family and I could accept. It has a tendency to change every few months – depending on changes with school, family member responsibilities, etc. But overall, this is how I’m able to balance the love of my craft with the love of my family. 

The Space:

Very recently (and painfully) I was reminded just how important a true writing space is. We have an itty-bitty room upstairs (literally like a walk-in closet) that my husband set a desk and chair in, along with a lamp. He declared it mine and told the kids ‘not to disturb mommy when she was in there’. (Thanks, hon!) And it works great. However sometimes papers get piled on that little desk and then there no room for my laptop, so I just give up and sit in my bed to write. That is, until I got a pinched nerve in my shoulder and couldn’t write a for a few days! That was less than 3 weeks ago, and the memory is still fresh in my mind. (Ouch!) Not fun.

Take your space seriously, people. Set it up and use it. (And make sure it’s ergonomically correct, too. 😉 ) And if you live in a small house, I hear ya! But something a speaker at our local Lancaster Christian Writers meeting said last year has stuck with me. Even if you don’t have a physical space to call yours, you can still make it yours. Use a set of candlesticks, a coffee mug, or some other personal item that says, “This is my writing space. Please leave me alone when I’m here and in thought!” 

Coffee Encouragement Continue reading

When you’ve got a few words to cut…

My current manuscript in revision happens to be a middle-grade fantasy set in a fictional medieval world with fun things like unicorns and magic. Yay, right? Right. Except that my brain had lots of ideas. Lots and lots. And lots. And well, as I often do, I didn’t exactly take a word count until after the first draft was finished.

Anyone want to guess where the word count came in? I’ll save you the agony.

Over 102,000 words.

Ouch

True, this would be considered a short story if I were George R. R. Martin. However, this book isn’t for adults. It’s not even for young adults. An average word count of 50,000 is considered acceptable for this age range, maybe as much as 65,000, since I write fantasy and have all sorts of world building to do.

But my book is different, right? My story needs to be this long, so the reader can bond with the characters and the world can be properly presented. Right.

Or not.

After a nice long conversation with my agent, guess what the word around town was? Yep, you got it! Cut it down to 65,000! Or make it two stories – which I could have certainly done, but my gut told me this wasn’t the right route to take.

Sooo, I began cutting. And cutting. Sigh. And cutting.

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Continue reading

Parties and snowflakes and books that are finished! These are a few of my favorite things!

So, I just looked and saw the date of my last post on my blog. *blush, blush* Has it really been that long? Is it any consolation that I’ve been using my time writing and editing? Oh yeah, and throwing birthday parties, playing in the snow and getting back into the groove of school. (Isn’t Christmas break the best?) 

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Having said that, I’m here to say I have not forgotten my New Years declaration of having a giveaway each month! I’ve just been building the anticipation! Check back in the next few days to enter to win this month’s exciting prize! 

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Other than that, I’m happy to say I’ve fin.al.ly finished my last revision on my book and it is now happily in the hands of beta readers who (I hope) are devouring it this very minute! And you know what that means? I’m one step closer to having it available for purchase later this year! (Hopefully, not too much later 😉 )

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Interested in being a beta reader for me? Feel free to shoot me a message so we can talk details. I’m always looking to expand my list of readers and their valuable feedback! 

Happy reading, friends!!

P.S. This is my 100th Blog Post! Celebrate by reading a good book! 😉 

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The benefits of stepping back…

So, it never ceases to amaze me how a little time away from my writing, can make a world of difference.

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Each time I step away from a manuscript, I always – always – come back with better ideas, and insight I just didn’t have before. Time and again, I grow frustrated with a work, accepting defeat, admitting that I just can’t be objective any longer.

Then I step away for a month. 

Once I return to it, I am always amazed at the fresh perspective I suddenly have, at my renewed ability to see ragged holes within the storyline, spots within the script that are slow enough that I will certainly lose my readers.

What I’ve come to understand is that time away is a gift to writers.

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In the modern world of writing, it seems that every author is in a race against the next, hoping to get their story out first, striving to be the next great writer before someone else nabs the coveted spot.

But times like these remind me that I need to choose to take my time, to space out my edits, not to rush ahead before my work is complete. Even if no one else ever reads the words I’ve penned, knowing that I’ve given my best is what aids the patience I need when awaiting my next revision.

What about you – do you find time away between your edits helps or hinders your work in progress? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!

Happy reading – and writing – friends!

Story Rx: It’s all in the details…

So, I recently glanced through one of my manuscripts that I hadn’t seen in a while. Partway through, I noticed that I had a child character speaking differently from the others. I honestly couldn’t even remember why I had her speaking like that in the first place. A quick review from earlier in the script showed that she was missing her two front teeth, hence my desire to have her ‘speak’ like she would sound.

Here’s the problem: I had just been reading the tail end of the story, and there were no alterations to her speech. I had forgotten to continue having her lisp throughout the novel. ‘Not a big deal’, you might say – go back and change her speech throughout the story. But then I asked myself, ‘Was it was really needed?’ 

Here’s what I came up with:

No.

Yes, details are certainly important in a novel, but knowing when to make them take center stage, is essential.

1. Know your limits. Did I really need to write out how a six-year old would sound if she were missing her two front teeth? Actually, probably not. She’s a minor character, not in every scene, so it’s likely the reader will have forgotten that back in chapter 1, there was a reference to her missing incisors. Not that giving a minor character a nice juicy physical flaw wouldn’t add to the overall arc of the story – it very well might. But as soon as I stated they were missing, then had her speak, the reader’s mind would likely automatically fill in that blank of how she would sound. And if they didn’t, would it harm my story to have them not hear her that way? No, it wouldn’t. Therefore, I can safely leave that small detail to the readers imagination. Not having to focus on this smaller detail of my novel frees me up to target other major details that do need my attention. Knowing which details to keep in your manuscript is key.

Indifferent-Mom Continue reading

Less is More

So, I’m about to lend out Fallen Ashes’ to some beta readers, to (hopefully) enter the final steps of revision. As I went back through my manuscript today, I realized I had cut almost 10,000 words with this last revision. The crazy thing is, I didn’t take out any major scenes! In fact, I added or extended a few. Yet, I lost almost a tenth of the story?

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Well…. I’m here to say, that’s actually a good thing!

You see, my friends, I’m wordy. Wordy, wordy, wordy, wordy! I like to talk (oh yes I do) and when I write, I write like I talk!

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I’ll never forget handing a (very) early copy of a manuscript to a friend to read through for me. Her only criticism was, “Well… it’s very descriptive.” Hrrmmm… I had no clue if that was a compliment or not! 

Looking back, I’m glad she said it. It’s helped me to become better at what I do.  Continue reading

Why I have a love/hate relationship with my writing.

So, NaNoWriMo is officially over and I’m happy to say that it was a great encouragement to get me moving on editing my upcoming novel. Yes, I know the idea was to write a new manuscript, but I’ve already got a pile of those sitting around 😉

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The book I worked on editing was actually written almost 18 months ago. The idea came to me one day, then I spent another day sitting in Starbucks banging out an outline, and three weeks later, it was written. I loved it! And my Alpha reader loved it, as well – even telling me it was my best work so far! Much rejoicing and cartwheels!

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Until a few months later, when I sat down to begin editing it… and hated the thing. 

Where had my masterpiece manuscript gone? Where was this fantastical work that I’d spent so many hours crafting and bringing to a place of perfection? Somewhere along the way, a small gremlin had entered my laptop and turned my words into undigestible matter I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Eek.

grinch1 Continue reading